Bilkis Bano case: No SC relief, kin of one convict says he will surrender on Sunday

The convicts, who belong to Singvad and Randhikpur villages in Singvad taluka of Dahod, are required to surrender at Godhra sub-jail in Panchmahal district on Sunday.

Ahmedabad: A relative of one of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case said on Saturday that he will surrender on the evening of January 21, the deadline set by the Supreme Court.

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The apex court on Friday dismissed a plea by the convicts, sentenced to life imprisonment in the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots, seeking an extension of time to surrender.

The convicts, who belong to Singvad and Randhikpur villages in Singvad taluka of Dahod, are required to surrender at Godhra sub-jail in Panchmahal district on Sunday.

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A relative of Shailesh Bhatt, one of the convicts, told PTI that he would surrender before the Godhra jail authorities on Sunday evening.

The top court had on January 8 annulled the remission granted to the convicts by the Gujarat government in the high-profile case, slamming the state for “usurpation of power”.

On August 15, 2022, the convicts were granted premature release after the Gujarat government accepted their remission applications in accordance with its 1992 policy, citing their good conduct’ in jail.

The police in Dahod district, from where the convicts hail, had said on Friday that the men were under “police watch” and not missing, as claimed by some media reports. The police said the convicts had been contacted and it did not appear that they had any intention of going incommunicado.

As it quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, the Supreme Court had on January 8 ordered the 11 men to go back to jail within two weeks.

Five of the convicts later moved the Supreme Court seeking more time to surrender on various grounds, including failing health, impending surgery, son’s marriage and harvesting crops. The SC on Friday dismissed their applications, observing that the reasons had no merit.

The convicts Bakabhai Vohania, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Govind Nai, Jaswant Nai, Mitesh Bhatt, Pradeep Mordhiya, Radheshyam Shah, Rajubhai Soni, Ramesh Chandana and Shailesh Bhatt had been in jail for 14 years before their release in August 2022.

After Bano filed a petition challenging the state’s decision, the top court quashed the remission order, ruling that the Gujarat government lacked jurisdiction to grant premature release to the convicts as the trial had been held in Maharashtra.

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